Health minister appoints new ‘basket committee’ to weigh adding NIS 300m. in medical technology

German’s spokeswoman said she closely followed the recommendations of the head of the ministry’s medical-technologies administration.

Health basket committee 370 (photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)
Health basket committee 370
(photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)
Health Minister Yael German appointed a public committee on Sunday to recommend adding NIS 300 million worth of medical technologies to the basket of health services in 2014.
Although the chairman – Shaare Zedek Medical Center director-general Prof. Jonathan Halevy – remains at the helm, most of the appointees to last year’s committee nominated by thendeputy health minister Ya’acov Litzman are not on the list.
German’s spokeswoman said that unlike the previous committee, in which some members were “close” to the minister, she received recommendations from the head of the ministry’s medical-technologies administration and committee coordinator, Dr. Osnat Luxenburg, without making any changes.
By the end of December, the unpaid advisers will go over the 600 different medical technologies offered by importers and manufacturers (costing a few billion shekels) for inclusion in the basket, set priorities and select NIS 300m. worth to add. The basket is the list of drugs and medical equipment provided by the four public health funds to their members for nominal fees. Technologies not included in the basket are paid for by Israelis out of pocket.
The NIS 300m. sum allocated by the Treasury has not changed in several years despite medical experts saying it was much too small to cover the needs of the public, which is growing and aging.
They recommend updating the basket by an automatic two percent each year, but the Finance Ministry refuses.
The other committee members are Prof. Riad Agbaria, head of the pharmaceutical faculty at Ben-Gurion University; Prof. Aaron Ben-Ze’ev of the University of Haifa’s philosophy department; Prof. Haim Bitterman, medical chief of Clalit Health Services; Dr. Suheir Assady, director of nephrology at Rambam Medical Center; Prof. Dina Ben- Yehuda, head of the hematology department at Hadassah- Ein Kerem; economist Irit Ginsburg; Yair Aseraf, ministry deputy director-general for planning and budgeting; Dr. Simha Gat’hon, director of multiculturalism at the Elem organization; Shira Greenberg, health liaison at the Finance Ministry; Prof. Daniel Vardi, deputy director-general of Leumit Health Services; Dr. David Mossensohn, deputy medical director at Meuhedet Health Services; Prof. Idit Matot, head of anesthesiology at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center; Prof. Avi Porath, head of the health division at Maccabi Health Services; Rabbanit Malka Piotorkovsky, an educator and social activist who was among the founders of the Takana Forum, a forum that fights sexual abuse in the national religious sector; and Prof. Pesach Schwartzman, head of the pain unit at Clalit Health Services in the south.
The first meeting will be on Tuesday.
According to Shmuel Ben- Ya’acov, head of the Patients’ Rights Organization, “because the members were chosen late, it could harm the committee’s ability to carry out its complicated work properly.
While most of the representatives of the health system in last year’s committee are familiar with the material, most of the public representatives are new and don’t know the issues. The short time they have to learn the material will not make it possible to learn the necessary material and give reasons for their positions.
“The small budget allocated this year, too, will mean that hundreds of thousands of patients will not get the medications they have been waiting for even though they were given high priority in previous years,” he said.